This is a guest post by Tiffany Fischman, M.D., a general pediatrician at Calabasas Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and a mom of three kids under the age of five.
As a mom, I know that just the thought of traveling with little kids can be exhausting. But I strongly believe that with the right planning and preparation, travel can also be fun and rewarding. Family trips create lifelong memories, and you shouldn’t let the fear of things being tough stop you from seeing the world or visiting your family over the holidays.
The key: make a packing list and don’t forget to bring along a well-stocked first-aid kit, including bandages, topical antibiotics, antihistamines, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and a thermometer (fevers tend to spring up when you least expect it!). If you’re traveling to a country where food or water quality may be an issue, it’s also a good idea to pack some rehydrating solution, which you can usually find in powder form.
Here are a few other things I advise parents to prep for:
It’s not super common for young kids to get motion sickness, but it does happen. If your child gets unexpectedly nauseated while traveling, give them some air, have them sip some water or munch on some crackers. Older kids can try ginger candies.
To prevent nausea and vomiting limit reading, video games, iPad use, etc. Looking down and focusing on things like a book can send mixed messages to the brain, which often result in kids feeling sick. Instead, encourage your child to look out the window, point to things in front of the car or plane, or simply lay back and relax.
Just in case the worst does happen, I always suggest packing a change of clothes for each child and at least a change of shirt for any adult in tow. If you’re traveling by car, consider throwing some garbage bags, paper towels and cleaning solution in the trunk.
If your child seems to always become ill when traveling, talk to your pediatrician. There are some medications that can be given in advance if it’s a recurrent problem.
This is a common complaint when flying due to pressure changes during take off and landing. The best thing to do is to encourage sucking or swallowing if your child is awake. For infants, nursing or sucking on a pacifier during take off and landing is the best way to prevent ear pain. Toddlers can try drinking through a straw, while older kids can chew gum or suck on candies. If your kids are asleep, however, let them be. It is ok to fly with an ear infection. Just remember to take your medicine!
Pack all the things: Travel with toys, crayons, books, stickers, iPad… anything to keep your little one busy, even if it’s just for five minutes. And always bring plenty of snacks! Small items like Cheerios, chopped fruit or popcorn can be good options as they take a while to consume, buying you a few minutes of peace!
Tiffany Fischman, M.D., FAAP, is a general pediatrician at Calabasas Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She previously worked at The Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston where she practiced general pediatrics and newborn medicine and held the position of Clinical Instructor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
In her free time she enjoys running, traveling, blogging on the latest topics in children’s health, and spending time with her husband and three young children, all under the age of five.